The 90 Illini #14: Devon Witherspoon


Robert
Aug 15, 2021
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That play is just so crazy. Two famous run-downs in the last 12 years for Illinois football: Terry Hawthorne in 2009 against Michigan and Devon Witherspoon in 2019 against Wisconsin. I think we all need to appreciate that tackle again (and Holly's photo right there - just perfect), so here's the gif again:

Are you kidding me? Just incredible. Tackle, goal-line stand, field goal instead of touchdown, final score Illinois 24, Wisconsin 23. Man, what a great sport.

14. Devon Witherspoon

Cornerback
Uniform number: 31
Year in school: Sophomore (without the Covid waiver, 2 years to play 2; with the Covid waiver, technically 3 years to play 3)
Height: 6'-0" -- Weight: 180 lbs.
Hometown: Pensacola, Florida
High School: Pine Forest HS
Best offers: Florida Atlantic
Tom Cruise rating:

2020 statistics: Played in seven of the eight games, starting all seven. 33 tackles, one TFL, two interceptions, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries.

Background

Witherspoon was one of the more out-of-nowhere commits the last decade or so. It's summer 2019, camp is about to start, and we find out that we added a cornerback from Florida who was originally headed to junior college but got his transcript (or whatever) cleaned up and he was headed to the Big Ten. His tape looked really good, and I love no-star recruits much more than two-star recruits, so I gave him 2.5 Cruises.

Then, suddenly, he's out there on the field every game. Even started three games as a true freshman. That's a crazy rise. In June, he's headed to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. By mid-October, he's starting games in the Big Ten and making game-saving toe tackles helping his team beat #6 Wisconsin.

2021 Outlook

I think he will be the starting cornerback opposite Tony Adams. Witherspoon started three games at corner in 2019 and then seven of eight games last season (he missed the opener with an injury), so it's his spot to lose. If he stays the full length of his eligibility, he could possibly start 46-48 games in his career.

So if he's #14 on my list this year, he has the chance to be well into the top-10 in 2022 and 2023. With so many players graduating after this season, Spoon is going to have to be one of the leaders of those 2022 and 2023 teams. At that point, he'll have 20-some starts under his belt. This is a very important player to Bret Bielema's rebuild.

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